Health Insurance and Traveling

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Health Insurance and Traveling

The summer may be behind us, but we are rapidly approaching the Holiday season, and another time of major travels. So it may be time again to rethink your Travel Insurance needs.

If your are planning any kind of extensive travel this Holiday Season health insurance professionals strongly advise that you know exactly the limitations of your health insurance plan when you are out of town. This is especially true if your are traveling to any foreign countries. The best way to know exactly what you are and are not covered for is to ask your benefits advisor at work or health insurance agent. The areas you need to be critically aware of are:

Emergency Care
Most of the well-known Health Insurance plans such as Aetna, Humana, and the Blues will cover you for emergencies that occur on foreign soil. But as always with health insurance the devil is in the details. Exactly what qualifies as an emergency can differ from health plan to health insurance plan. Most health insurance plans use what in the industry is called the “prudent lay person standard”. What that means is that they will cover any thing that under the same circumstances most people would think would be life threatening, or result in severe or permanent disability.  For example if you are sitting in a cantina in Mexico and have chest pains and go to the emergency room in fear of having a heart attack, you will likely be covered – even if it turns out to just be gas. Things like dog bites, snakebites, broken bones, or injuries that require stitches will also almost always be covered.  However, less life threatening things like sunburns, poison ivy, or flu – will not be covered. Even if you sought treatment for such conditions at an emergency room, if they turn out to be non-life threatening, the emergency room visit may be covered but you will likely have to pay out of pocket for any follow up treatments.

Non Emergency Care
Health Insurance professionals say it is important that travelers understand that even if they have health insurance that will cover them for medical treatments overseas – more often than not their health insurance card is meaningless in other countries. Be prepared to pay for non-life threatening medical treatments overseas up front. Then if it actually was a covered expense by your health insurance plan you may be reimbursed for what you laid out. In order to be reimbursed you must provide proper documentation, which must include a completely itemized bill from the provider.

If you are unclear about what your health insurance provides you in terms of coverage when traveling, or you think it may not be enough, you may want to consider purchasing an affordable Travel Insurance policy for the duration of your trip.